ANZSSA e-newsletter - April/May 2020

In this Edition

COVID-19 - transition and how we adapted services

Pre Orientation and Orientation activities

Ongoing wellbeing support and promotion

For Your Information

Professional Development Opportunities


COVID-19 - transition and how we adapted services

La Trobe University - Supporting the health and wellbeing of our students while they transition to the new COVID-19 world

The Student Health and Wellbeing team began considering the ways in which we could offer our students additional health and wellbeing support in response to COVID19, long before a pandemic response was enacted in Australia.

The decision of intended campus closure was anticipated weeks before the official notice and the University implemented our “pause” in teaching week to move classes online. We knew that after this, our students would need our support, likely more so than ever before.

This sparked a massive logistical project in order to equip our Health and Wellbeing team to enable them to continue their normal work off-site. Staff were equipped with technology, both hardware like notebooks and wi-fi dongles, and software like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Cisco extensions, thereby (relatively) smoothly transitioning our normal day – to – day service provision into telephone and Zoom formats. Part of this process involved considering our students in situations that limited their access to technology (and thereby to us) for a variety of reasons, including financial and ability, and every effort was made to anticipate and find a method of communication that suited their specific situation. 

We knew however, that merely moving our normal support services to an online, remote-access format would not be enough - the new COVID world would require novel methods of approach to solve the problems that came alongside.

A COVID-19 bursary program, spearheaded by our Equity and Diversity team, went from “idea” to “live” within twenty-four hours in late March. Students can apply for either a technology bursary (comprising a laptop and/or internet allowance of $150), or a $3000 crisis support bursary. Equity and Diversity team members prioritise students experiencing a catastrophic or significant impact where there is significant adversity or risk of homelessness, starvation or mental health breakdown because of COVID 19. So far, $4.2M has been disbursed by direct deposit into the student’s nominated bank account, making access as easy as possible.

With so many applications, and donations for the Student Crisis Fund still coming in, applications are assessed on a rolling basis and our senior team members are working with other areas of the University to combat and mitigate some risks and wellbeing issues for these students.

Our Project Coordinators undertook a web page development task and created what we hoped would be a starting resource for our students seeking help because of the “new world”. Adobe Analytics run on this page from 1 April 2019- 1 April 2020 put this link as the third most clicked link on our Student Health and Wellbeing page – given that the banner had only been live for approximately one week at April 1st, this has been an incredibly successful outreach.

Our Project Coordinators put together a “help-yourself” resource that was less fixated on the practical, medical aspects of COVID19 now widely available in a multitude of formats, and focused more on ways to help keep our minds healthy and well in a situation that was beyond any of our control. Suggestions, tips and tricks, resources and supports were all included to help our students acknowledge their “stress” and find the support right for them.

Resources were also put together that detailed how to access the support services we worked so hard to transition to remote support. We knew that many of our students had never used Zoom or accessed remote support in the way we were now offering it, and we wanted to make sure that they knew which services were still accessible, and how they could be accessed. The world was, and remains stressful enough right now, and we were aiming to make asking for, and getting help as easy as possible.

Transitioning to the new world of self-isolation would bring many significantly stressful challenges our students would likely need help to conquer. However, we were aware that these challenges would not necessarily fall into the counselling or accessibility parameters traditionally handled by or associated with our team units. We were concerned that our students, thinking they did not need “counselling”, or did not qualify to register for support with our Equity and Diversity team, would not approach any of our wellbeing services for help.

To combat this, our team worked to develop a new initiative of “Wellbeing Check-Ins” as a part of the website banner build.

In consultation with senior team members, our Project Coordinators created a simplified ‘registration’ form. The focus was kept on this idea of “a different kind of support” for this new COVID world, and “whatever you might need help with”.

Completed, these forms automatically go to our Complex Case Manager for review in conjunction with another Senior Health and Wellbeing Coordinator. They then contact the student to see what can be done to help them, making referrals to both university and community services where appropriate.

In recent practice, the scope of this team has expanded to include staff referrals flagged from a university-wide student call campaign (where every single enrolled student receives a courtesy call from the University to see how they are going) and personal statements in the financial bursary applications. In approximately three weeks of practice, these two team members have made more than 160 calls to students that needed help.

In situations where our wellbeing check-ins reveal students that may require more in-depth counselling support, they are referred on to our counselling team for appropriate assistance. Additionally, the counselling team have also been supporting and debriefing staff that have been assisting with the student call campaign.

Our Speak Up team have been assisting in making additional welfare and wellbeing checks, supporting other units within the team. Excitingly, they are piloting a new program in our remote access model, “facilitated reflective practice”, designed to offer support and build capacity. Currently, the team are running sessions for both the staff and residential assistants who are continuing to work with students in this difficult time despite campus shut down. Speak Up are also offering a series of webinars for both students and staff, to help our community in their transition to online learning. For staff, topics include “managing problem behaviour” online and “responding to distressed students, and for students “respectfully engaging” and “keeping safe online”. The team have also developed articles, such as “Family Violence Support for students”, and “Being Respectful Online, and What Happens if You Aren’t” for our Student Communications, responding to situations prompted by the COVID pandemic.

University of Queensland - Creative Counselling in response to COVID-19

University of Queensland Student Counselling Team

The COVID-19 crisis has demanded a seismic shift in the way in which universities delivered services to their students.  Learning moved online and support services required to be flexible and adapt to a new method of meeting student needs.  In response, the UQ counselling service quickly moved to a tele-health model with counselling sessions provided through Skype, Zoom or phone to ensure ongoing therapy for our 50,000 plus students. Since the shift to virtual service delivery mode in March the team have completed 635 counselling sessions to the 24th of April. Existing programs required rapid modification to online platforms in an effort to reach as many students as possible as demands for assistance increased in response to unpredictable changes.   A number of programs have shifted into the virtual space, including art therapy and psychoeducation to assist in coping with COVID-19 impacts on university life.  Three of the programs are reviewed in detail.

Freedom From Your Cage – Zarinah Hienekamp and Keren Jones

The Freedom From Your Cage program is a self-compassion based body image closed group which encourages the development of body neutrality over four weekly sessions.  During the five year history of the program sessions have been run in face to face format only, and in semester 1, 2020 one session was delivered prior to the social distancing requirement.  The counsellors providing this program decided to continue the program to support the students who had commenced, and to provide ongoing support and connection.  The program changed to a closed group format with participants provided with weekly email based content and given the opportunity to respond to this content with an end of week wrap up provided by the counsellors.  The first strategy was the development of an online virtual board using Padlet which students were encouraged to access and provide input.  Future sessions will include information and interactive activities based on the weekly focus of the program, and especially the development of self-compassion.  It is hoped having a connection to support body image may provide anchoring for these students who often also struggle with other forms of anxiety.  Whilst email connection is considered useful at this time, it is felt that the nature of program is best suited to face to face interactions between group members thus it will most likely revert once the social distancing measures are relaxed.

Mindfulness Programs – Yasuyo Uehara

Providing continuity of counselling services to our students from home during the first weeks of COVID19 was a challenging process of balancing efficiency with new technology, finding creative solutions, and maintaining resilience.  It has been a time that required adaptation to a new service landscape. The Mindfulness Program delivered through student services with facilitated face-to-face groups since 2010, resulted from a need for adjunct therapy offering skills and supportive practice of skills to manage on-going stresses of academic life. With a growing demand in counselling support and limited resources, my background as a mindfulness meditator trained at Spirit Rock and a trauma-sensitive yoga teacher trained by The Trauma Centre at JRI provided useful tools to meet that need. 

Over the years I have offered the program, the shape of the groups and sessions have evolved around enhancing retention and to best meet student needs during the semester timetable. The best format was open group sessions offering a weekly mindfulness meditation group and a mindfulness yoga class during the semester. The open format allowed students to attend without the burden of an on-going commitment and provided flexibility in facilitating groups on my own.  

As staff were required to work from home, I again was confronted with the task of delivering the mindfulness groups in a new and adaptive way.  In order to connect with students online the Student Experience and Engagement team quickly established a platform that provided a variety of health and wellbeing activities aligned to social distancing. On this platform we introduced 3 new formats for the Mindfulness Program: Mindful Moments which were short videos 3-5 minutes, longer Mindfulness Practices 20-30 minutes, and Mindfulness Q&A sessions that are planned to be pre-recorded and broadcast live on Facebook. Planning included providing original video content for Mindful May, a UQ wide mental health initiative with time scheduled each week to allow for video production to keep content fresh. 

With five videos currently posted, we have reached between 1400-2200 students with total video views ranging from 272-884.



Total Video Views

Views > 1min

Mindfulness Meditation




Mindfulness Yoga




Mindful Moments




Mini Mindfulness Yoga




Mindful Moment – Breath





Despite the rapid changes and creative adaptation of service provision, a key concern as the semester progresses within the COVID19 landscape is the decreased motivation for many students who are struggling to stay engaged in an online learning environment. For many, feeling disconnected physically from their peers, campus, classrooms and teachers is also reflecting a deeper disconnection from their sense of purpose and meaning in why they chose to study in the first place. Whether technology offers a meaningful bridge to support motivation remains our on-going challenge.

Self-Compassion Chats – Zarinah Hienekamp and Keren Jones

To support students during this difficult time, and to assist their sense of connection to support and their peers, the counsellors created a new weekly zoom chat session and kindness wall for students  based around the principles of self-compassion and covered different topics identified by students as being important.  For example, self-care and resilience whilst living with social distancing, motivation and expectation management for students working from remote locations were seen as important and useful in the current climate.  The counsellors involved in these sessions were required to rapidly learn how to utilise social media for marketing and zoom for group workshops, have active involvement in marketing to ensure students were aware of the sessions and to continue to provide genuine care for each student who zoomed in.  Issues around confidentiality and managing group dynamics needed to be addressed openly with each group.  Additionally, for the counsellors there was the challenge of not having the immediate interpersonal feedback from participants, particularly those who chose not to have their cameras on during the sessions.   The response from participants has been generally positive with participant numbers increasing each week and it does raise the question that perhaps even when the world returns to old normal there is a place for group chats that have more flexible attendance.  It is possible that in order to provide as many students as possible with self-compassion information we need to be flexible in our style of delivery, particularly for those who struggle with feeling vulnerable when sharing a physical space with others.

Griffith University - Transitioning to Online Student Wellbeing Support

Emma Morgan, Director, Student Health, Counselling and Wellbeing and Lisa Chiang, Senior Disability Advisor and Counsellor, Student Disability and Accessibility and Counselling and Wellbeing

On the 29th of March 2020, as our Prime Minister highlights the importance of working remotely where possible, Griffith University quickly transitioned its staff and services to working from home from the 2nd of April onwards. This article captures some of our team’s strategies, challenges and innovative ways to continue and further our support for students during these unprecedented and challenging times.

As the measures taken by the government have continued to step up, Griffith University has rapidly adapted its practices to adhere to the changing rules. Students were progressively transitioned to online learning and currently there are no on-campus classes. Our services have also progressively transitioned towards online appointments through video and phone while we were working on-campus and now apart from the health and medical service, we work from home.

Since February, Student Disability and Accessibility has been proactive in ensuring the continuity of our services while working remotely. Senior Disability Advisors (SDAs) were equipped with repurposed laptops with software to access our case management system. Practice sessions between staff remotely and in the office were conducted to trial and troubleshoot IT problems. We recognise that students with disabilities may have increased disadvantages as they transition to studying online and are expedient in responding to these challenges through advocating a flexible and compassionate approach, increasing our focus on accessibility, and stepping up of timely support. All lectures on Echo360 now include auto captioning and we are creating resources for academics to easily create accessible content, thereby not only supporting students with disabilities but also students different learning styles, study environments, English language capabilities and so on.

Additionally, computers have been made available to be loaned to students who do not have personal access to technology at home, bursaries to support struggling students and access to online assistive technology. There has been an increase in appointments with SDAs with students struggling to adjust to online learning and the rapidly changing university and societal circumstances. To ensure that our students are all being supported, our Student Equity Officers are calling students who indicated that they have a disability to check-in regarding their wellbeing, new study strategies and referral to relevant support services.

For Student Health, Counselling and Wellbeing we utilise a case management system and online risk assessment that is licenced only through our university computers. In transitioning to working from home, counsellors brought home their office computers, secured adequate internet connection and a private location. In balancing enmeshed work and life commitments, we have adopted a flexible approach for counsellors to conduct appointments in times that fit with their needs and thereby also accommodating the different student availabilities. A remotely accessible online risk assessment was quickly secured and we continue to find technological solutions to streamline administrative tasks. We have also created a webpage and tip sheet on coronavirus and self-care. Our other ongoing supports and resources include email and text counselling, 24/7 Mental Wellbeing Support Line and Online Health and Wellness Centre.

Our counsellors have adapted quickly but have faced challenges in troubleshooting IT issues, becoming familiar with tele-counselling software and methodology. Furthermore, poor internet connections during video calls which sometimes results in lags and disrupted communication can compound the exasperating circumstances for the student and may result in miscommunication and further distress. Counsellors recognise that tele-counselling is not supportive for all, especially those with moderate to severe conditions, and we are actively looking into the literature to find alternative ways of support.

Since the beginning of this year both the disability and counselling teams have embarked on a project towards “Embedding wellbeing and inclusion informed practices into curriculum”. Through our first-hand experience with students we recognise the need to continuously improve the quality of our students’ university experience by creating a culture of inclusion, compassion and support while maintaining a high standard of academic rigour. We have been collaborating with academic and professional stakeholders and researching into evidence-based best practices in universal design learning and higher education strategies for improved mental wellbeing. We have started to create resources to support academics and students in creating accessible content and strategies to increase mental wellbeing literacy. This has been timely as we transition to online learning, as many of these strategies are now pertinent in the virtual learning environment. 

Part of Student Health, Counselling and Wellbeing are our medical centres which remain open at both our Nathan and Gold Coast campuses with reduced face-to-face appointment times. General practitioners (GPs) and clinical nurses have moved to a mixed-mode of telehealth and in-person consultations. Consultations not requiring physical intervention are safely delivered via phone or video conferencing. This has presented challenges, particularly around how referrals, prescriptions and medical certificates are sent off. Telehealth consultations are no quicker to perform than an in-person consultation, but the admin side of the consult takes a reasonable amount of time. With no extra staff and high demand on time due to the influenza vaccine administration has placed extra stress on the nursing and admin teams.

The mental health team (mental health nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists) for the medical centre are performing all consultations remotely from home. This decision was brought about due to the difficulty to social distance in consultations that typically lasts close to an hour and the high-risk categories that some of these team members fall into. Rapidly, this team has had to learn how to adapt to working from home, access the various IT systems and ensure they have a private and confidential space. Like the counselling team, working remotely has had its challenges. Poor internet connections when conducting video calls with students can result in disrupted sessions and distress. Students who are already struggling with isolation and technology issues are finding it difficult, which has resulted in some referrals back to the GPs, who can see them in a face-to-face capacity. The practice management system has struggled via the VPN, meaning it is difficult to jump between functions and patients. This issue particularly impacts mental health nurses who have amended their schedules to balance out the extra time required for technology.

Access to the Health and Medical Service remains high during this time. In the initial stages of COVID-19 the service saw a reasonable number of patients with respiratory symptoms and some were sent for testing. At the time of writing this article, no patients of the Health and Medical Service have tested positive for COVID-19. Such presentations have lessened, and the medical centre continues to see high demand for immunisation, mental health and general health services.


Western Sydney University - Supporting Staff to Support Students

Ms Emma Taylor MBM BSW, Mental Health & Wellbeing Team Coordinator
Dr Nicole Church, Clinical Psychologist, Manager, Counselling Service

Students’ mental health and wellbeing needs are unique and inherently complex by nature, as many contributing factors determine a person’s mental health and wellbeing during the time they are a student undertaking academic study.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing team (MHWBT) provides professional support to staff systemically, in the form of consultation, early intervention in complex student incidents or identified issues to ensure effective risk assessment of students’ presentations; and specifically designed training workshops to equip staff with relevant resources and skills to effectively manage the complex student presentations. Support to students is inherently a function of the team, and this can occur via a direct referral from staff.

For the purpose of this article the systemic approach undertaken by the Mental Health and Wellbeing Team, actively supporting staff to support students, will be the focus of the author. The examples shared will include a description of the programs and functions of the MHWB team that have evolved and become a platform of service delivery, working to implement the universities’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy of prevention, promotion, early intervention & responsive practice to ensure a whole of university strategic approach to support student success at university.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Team

This team has been in existence at WSU since 2012. The team has included various roles – a Coordinator, Mental Health Advisors, a Health Promotion coordinator and several project workers and research assistants.

The function of the team is to operationalise the MHWB Strategy, this entails supporting students, assessment of risk, and providing consultation for staff around mental health issues, behaviours and complex student presentations, and implementing prevention and promotion strategies linked to the strategy pillars, determined by needs and themes identified through evidence and continuous improvement evaluation cycles.

ART - Assessment and Referral Team

In 2019, the team created a function to improve responsiveness of the wellbeing services, essentially triaging student enquiries and ensuring students in need, with significant complex issues were responded to in a timely and professional capacity.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Resources for staff booklet

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Resources for Staff booklet has several intentions. It is utilised to raise awareness and knowledge around mental health literacy. Staff are introduced to the mental health spectrum, to learn more of mental health as a continuum. Sharing this framework with staff assists in increasing the understanding of students’ mental health and wellbeing. Topics covered in the booklet include:

Defining Mental Health and Mental Illness, Risk/Vulnerable groups, Warning signs and Changes in Health and Behaviour, Recognising Concerning, Distressing or Aggressive Behaviours, How to Respond, Strategies to use when Communicating, Suicidal Behaviours, Responding to Suicidal Behaviours, Identifying and Responding to Aggressive behaviours, Responding to Harm, Mental Health Response Flow Chart, Support and Referral Pathways.

An online version of the booklet has been developed and named Mental Health and Wellbeing Resources for Staff Online Module – The online module is offered to all new staff joining WSU, as an introduction and component of orientation.  Also described as a tool that aims to raise awareness and increase mental health literacy of staff. It works through a series of modules to increase knowledge of the mental health framework and guide staff to become familiarised with possible mental health changes in student presentations, behaviours and how to effectively respond to students presenting risk, challenging presentations or requiring some assistance with wellbeing services. Responding to incidents, recognising risk and when to contact professional services such as the mental health team, or emergency services for urgent or crisis situations is a key learning outcome of the online module.

Workshops and training is offered by the MHWBT.

Some examples of the workshops include: 

  • Recognising and responding to distressing, concerning and challenging presentations.
  • Welcome to Wellbeing – how to access the services that may be suited to student’s needs, such as counselling, welfare or disability services
  • International Student Orientation – actively engaging students in workshops to become familiar with wellbeing services to create networks and connections upon early arrival at university
  • Supporting Supervisors, Supporting PhD Candidates – recognising and supporting students’ mental health and wellbeing during candidacy. A series of workshops across the GRS to support supervisors in recognising and supporting the PhD candidates and attaining skills to manage complex student presentations.
  • Mental Health Forums – to invite academic staff to participate in a Q&A style forums, where mental health staff are available to share information and content around university initiatives, the MHWB Strategy and development of a MHWB Policy at WSU

Intra service collaboration – the Combined Services Meetings within Wellbeing Services includes monthly campus meetings to work across disciplines counselling, welfare, disability and mental health teams, to work collaboratively and share resources and skills to meet students and staff needs.

BRROG – the Behaviour Review Risk Operational Group, meets weekly to discuss complex student presentations and behaviours. This group consists of the MHWBT, and representatives from Legal, Complaints, HR, Campus Safety and Security, Director of Student Services and Manager of Counselling. The group meets to discuss risk, refer and manage complex cases that present across the university community both in academic and non-academic situations, to consider possible cases of misconduct, and the possibility of enacting the Medical Assistance Policy.

Staff across the university are encouraged to contact the Mental Health and Wellbeing Team to access support for students. Where there emerges a need for skill development of staff to better manage behaviours, training and ongoing consultation between the teams is enacted.


The mental health and wellbeing needs of students and staff is recognised as a whole of community responsibility at WSU. Western Sydney University aims to provide a safe, supportive and healthy environment whereby student success is the centre of our strategic vision. To ensure a comprehensive and campus wide approach, the staff are supported systemically to become key partners, participating in the strategic principles of prevention of mental health escalating by creating opportunities for early intervention and response, promotion of a positive and supportive working and learning culture encouraging our community to achieve optimal personal learning and capacity as students and staff. The Mental Health and Wellbeing Team within Wellbeing Services strives to embed mental health, wellbeing and safety across the community through its systemic approach supporting staff to recognise students’ needs and respond effectively and efficiently.

Victoria University of Wellington - Supporting Students through Transitions

On 25 March 2020 New Zealand moved into a Level 4 strict lockdown in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. The Wellington Careers and Employment team were in the middle of the usual busy graduate recruitment period, having recently held a large commerce and law careers expo and then were dealing with multiple on campus event cancellations as travel and physical distancing restrictions came into place. Employers still wanted to engage with students. Students were looking for support in making important career connections. The reflection below from Mike Parkes, Employer Relations Consultant, outlines the adaptability required in supporting students through transitions in one area of the careers service and the value of working in partnership with students.

Collaboration and agility have always been more than simply buzzwords in the world of graduate recruitment and student support. Whist these terms can get bandied around ad-nauseum at conferences and on PowerPoint presentations, we all have found that the real meanings and benefits of these words have come into clear focus and have become more tactile during these last few unusual and unnerving weeks.

The day the lockdown began here in New Zealand, I found myself in a situation I had never been in before, no not the lockdown (although that was certainly new), but co-hosting a Zoom webinar for 40 students, who had an opportunity to listen, watch and ask questions about a graduate programme related to their area of study. We all, I feel, find normality and comfort in losing ourselves in our work. If anything, that comforting feeling of ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’, along with the brief terror of being in a virtual environment, facilitating something that I am used to doing within the cosy confines of bricks and mortar really helped me on a personal level that day. I also strongly feel that it did the same for the students. The questions that this cohort of students were already asking themselves: will the recruitment process be the same, will there be fewer jobs, are the employers even still recruiting this year, must have felt overwhelming. The importance of facilitating these conversations between employers and students, and the simple fact of an employer being present to speak to students was a crucial, powerful and normalising one.

Myself, colleagues, students and stakeholders have experienced a sharp learning curve around the mechanisms available to us to deliver this tailored engagement remotely, and we have all realised that many of these techniques will continue into the new world we will find ourselves in. I have now been fortunate enough to deliver multiple sessions to students to share the implicit message that life is going on and to ensure the currency and accuracy of any information I can be a conduit for.

We aim to listen to students and try to meet their needs. My colleagues and I worked very hard in the lead-in to trimester one to forge relationships with our student clubs and groups. This partnership approach proved tremendously valuable, not just in having another outlet for communication to students, but to be able to access a true barometer of how the students are feeling; their hopes, needs and anxieties as we seek out and receive updates from employers around changes to their recruitment and programmes. We have delivered many of the sessions with a level of student collaboration we simply have not had previously, and this also is something we hope to carry over into the new normal.

To put it simply, we have made sure that students know we are here through a variety of channels, online resources and events. That we are still operating and that we are responsive and mindful. This reassurance, along with maintaining our external relationships, is critical as we collaborate with employers to maintain, and in some cases increase this reassuring engagement.

Pre Orientation and Orientation activities

Queensland University of Technology - Pre-Orientation Camp for Scholarship Recipients

Karlee Davies

The transition from high school to university can be a challenging time with many students facing a multitude of issues. Students may struggle with finding new friends, adjusting to a new mode of study, and relocating to a new city. High-achieving students also often have increased pressure both internally and externally, especially when they have received a scholarship. These pressures may include parental expectations, scholarship requirements to maintain a certain GPA or perfectionistic thinking.

Many student development theories highlight the importance of solid social support structures when it comes to thriving during university transitions. Schlossberg’s Transition Theory (1998) highlights the importance of these social structures as well as the development of strong coping responses to deal with adversity and change. Chickering & Reisser (1993) identified key positive influences on student identity development that educational environments can have, including providing opportunities for student communities and student development programs.

In response to these identified needs and the research recommendations, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) established an orientation camp for incoming merit-based scholars. The camp sees staff members take up to 100 new students and ten student leaders, known as Fellows, away for a three-day experience that aims to build community, develop personal capabilities and prepare students for university life.

The Camp Experience

The camp offers students an introduction to university life as well as the opportunity to connect with other first year students. Students engage in a number of activities including social and physical activities as well as others that expose them to new perspectives and see them engaging in thought-provoking exercises. Students are divided into teams and are assigned activities on a rotational basis. The format of the camp has been designed so that students are able to form new friendships and university connections that will set the tone for a successful transition to the QUT learning environment.

Daytime activities include thought-provoking and team building exercises and challenges, social interactions, stand-up paddle boarding and surfing. Optional night-time activities include laser tag, a trivia night and the opportunity to talk with the Fellows and other first years about expectations for university life. Free time is also allocated daily to encourage students to connect with those who are not in their team. All activities are carefully planned with Fellows to ensure participants are forming connections for their professional and personal benefit. These activities also serve to ease both some of the aforementioned pressures they may have been feeling, as well as some of the potential anxiety that often comes with both being a high achiever and transition to tertiary life.

Student Feedback

Student feedback is consistently positive, with many students applying to attend as Fellows the following year. Comments about the camp include:

One of the best things I've ever experienced! I was feeling quite nervous about meeting people at uni, but after the camp, I am extremely excited to start at QUT and have gained more confidence in approaching other students and starting a conversation. Although it was only three days, I have made some really close friends and hope to continue to get to know them all better. Knowing people before uni starts is something I am really grateful for, so thank you for the opportunity!

Really good to meet people who are already at uni but still around the same age as us, as they could provide insight from the perspective of someone who had recently been through the process of starting uni.

I really enjoyed this valuable opportunity to network with a diverse group of students, all of which were on different walks of life entering a defining chapter of their lives. It was definitely a unique experience that catered to a variety of interests and needs - from team building activities to self-reflection. I greatly appreciate the care and consideration invested into the organisation of this camp in preparation for our university debut. I am excited to be attending future events to catch up with the fellows and my peers, and hopefully collaborate to invest in the next cohort! Thank you, again!!

The camp was an extremely positive experience and greatly helped in my preparation for uni by putting my mind at ease and by answering many questions, some I did not know I even had.

The underlying trend in this feedback is a development of confidence, connections and an excitement for the future. This kind of positive feedback demonstrates the benefits of a camp-like experience in developing community and expanding personal capabilities as recommended in student development research.

Next steps

Following on from the camp, the students are invited to join QUT’s College of Excellence, a co-curricular personal and professional development program. The program offers students opportunities to build on the community established during camp, while also developing a deeper self-understanding and building on their employability skills. Just as the camp is catered to their needs while transitioning to university, College of Excellence opportunities are tailored to students’ needs at different times of the semester and throughout their university lives.


Chickering, A. W., & L. Reisser, L. (1993). Education and identity (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Evans, Nancy J, Forney, Deanna, S and Guido-Dibrito, Florence. (1998). Student Development in College Theory Research and Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

University of Canberra - We want your journey to start in the best way possible

Mikaela Dockrill, Student Transition and Retention Coordinator, University of Canberra; Laurie Poretti, Manager, Student Equity, Participation and Welfare, University of Canberra


The University of Canberra (UC) Student Mentor Program is a key transition initiative designed to ensure the student experience is comprehensive, integrated, and coordinated through a whole of institution strengths-based approach.
The UC Student Mentor Program has been developed to provide visible, early, individualised and proactive support by current student role models and university staff. The program is a powerful, effective and efficient way to reach students at the beginning of their university studies, align them with appropriate administrative and pastoral support early in their education journey and connect them to the university community in a meaningful and sustainable way.

The University of Canberra Student Equity & Access Plan (2018-2022) identifies key initiatives that the University is implementing to improve social connectedness, belonging and connection between commencing students prior to the start of university, throughout their studies, at completion and beyond. For students from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in higher education, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students from regional and remote areas and students from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds, social presence in particular is vital to creating a learning environment conducive to students feeling connected to each other and their respective teaching staff. Genuine engagement with students as partners provides rich opportunities to learn about students’ unique needs, circumstances and challenges (Zacharias & Brett, 2018) and to address those needs with appropriate and timely support. The work delivered through the UC Student Mentor Program plays an important role in achieving improved transition and retention outcomes for these students.

The initiative

“As a new student on campus, this program helped me feel like I had someone that could help me out when I needed it. I felt really supported and had a really great time meeting up with my mentor.” UC Mentee, UC Student Mentor Program Feedback 2019

The University of Canberra is committed to providing intensive support to all newly commencing students through individualised and targeted transition support. The UC Student Mentor Program is designed to enable, empower and connect new students with support services and the wider university community from their first week at university.

After reviewing current literature and recommendations of peer mentor programs delivered in a higher education context, the UC Student Mentor program was developed through consultation with UC faculty and support service staff and current students. The program integrates both learning and social theoretical mentoring frameworks (Dominguez and Hager 2013) where the experience is both a mutual-learning process for mentees and mentors as well as requires role-modelling and the facilitation of social learning.

The mode and style of delivery is informed by Strengths Theory (Saleeby, D. 2013) and focuses on capacity and resilience building. All engagement with Mentees by their Mentors is from an enabling, supportive and proactive position redressing a deficit and reactive approach to support. UC Student Mentors provide individual and targeted support to newly commencing students through Orientation activities, structured weekly meetings, and individualised information, advice and guidance. The UC Student Mentor Program supports students at all stages of the student lifecycle, from pre-commencement, transition-in, throughout their degree, at completion and beyond. All Student Mentors also have access to their own professional Mentor from within the UC Alumni community.

The Program

The UC Student Mentor Program involves current university students being role models, university guides and mentors for commencing university students for the duration of their first semester. The program is designed so that Student Mentors facilitate structured activities to ensure a whole of institution approach to student success and wellbeing (McConnell et al, 2019).

To ensure Mentors can be utilized fully and have the most impact, the UC Student Mentor program requires specific skills and training. Mentors undergo a rigorous recruitment process followed by a comprehensive training program and ongoing professional development and support. 

UC Student Mentors provide weekly updates through a scaffolded feedback and critical reflection process that ensures a prompt response to the needs and issues of Mentees. Regular and open communication between the Mentors and the University’s UC thrive team informs the direction, implementation and focus areas of the program for future delivery, enhancing the experience and maximising the impact of the program for all participants, including Mentees and Mentors.

The UC Student Mentor Program received overwhelmingly positive feedback from all participants in its first delivery in S2 2019 with 87% of Mentees (newly commenced students) and 95% of Mentors indicating that they would recommend the program to new students. The impact of the program on all involved was extensive; Mentees were connected to the UC Community in a meaningful way from their first week, they had early access to support services and individualised support every week until Week 7. Furthermore, Student Mentors indicated that the program had an overwhelmingly positive impact on their own experience at university and their connection to the UC community.

“This experience has allowed me to connect further with the UC community whilst also building confidence and skills such as time management. It has been a really positive experience and it has been great to see how the program has impacted and provided support to commencing students.” UC Student Mentor, 2019 Feedback


La Trobe University - Supporting student health and wellbeing in their transition to studying at university - service promotion and student engagement during orientation week

Traditionally, Orientation Week (or “O-Week”) at La Trobe University involves celebration and festivity, but it is also when the university sees the highest amount of in-person student engagement at one time. Because of this, the Student Health and Wellbeing team have always been sure to have a presence at these events, in order to engage with attending new students and ensure that they are aware of how we can help – what services we offer and how to access them, hopefully before students find they need them. Due to our additional focus priority area in the Wellbeing department to focus on health and wellbeing preventative measures, it is also a great opportunity to circulate some key health and wellbeing messages of our key 2020 priority focus areas.

2020 brought with it the additional challenge of the outbreak and spread of COVID – 19. Our on-campus orientation would need to be a little different in what messages we would be sending and receiving from the students.

Our approach to O-Week messaging came in several forms, both large and small.

We made a conscious decision to select bright, colourful merchandise and marketing collateral, to attract attention and draw passing students to our stall so we could engage in conversation. 

As we are aware, many students are attracted by the potential of free merchandise at O-week events. Our team approaches this with a certain amount of practical realism – how best can we use this behaviour to promote our support for students?

We put a significant amount of consideration into selecting the best type and style of merchandise and marketing collateral in order to effectively advertise and make our services accessible, while also considering our sustainability impact and cost-effectiveness.  Attention-grabbing colour options, capacity to hold advertising/URLs, and the likelihood of students to both retain and utilise our merchandise are all considered before a selection is made

The multi-coloured “flower” highlighters, which were branded with our Student Wellbeing website were chosen as they were considered attractive and practical for a tertiary student audience. The potential for on-going use increases likelihood that students would retain this merchandise through their studies. Should students feel like they need wellbeing support later in semester (for example; during exam revision, a particularly stressful time - which also uses highlighters), our URL, and therefore our broader service information would be easily accessible.

As a part of a larger initiative under the Respect at La Trobe team, we designed and created consent badges. Consent is an important and on-going theme in our community and one we ensure is a key message every year for new students. They were designed to be conversation starter for our team to use to engage the students and promote the “Consent Matters” module which is located in the students’ LMS.  It is an effective way to deliver an important message to our newest community members in an approachable way. Students loved putting the badges on their bags and choosing the right message for them.  

One of our bigger initiatives this semester was sparked by the increasing fears and concerning behaviours in the community that came with the breaking news of COVID 19 starting to spread around the world. Fear of infection, race-based prejudices, distressing behaviours, and both economic and material uncertainty were just some of the concerns our community were bringing to our teams. From this, our Respect at La Trobe unit worked with a team of our students to create an informational poster which encourages six ways in which our community could “contribute to a respectful community”.

We felt that engaging students with the creation of this resource was valuable as it added an element of audience authorship, making the advice relevant to those reading it, and increasing its authenticity.

After the creation, our team negotiated with other departments of the university in order to have them put up on the back of toilet stalls in perspex frames, throughout high-use areas of the campus. We figured that this would be the most efficient method of consumption given the “captive” audience – with nothing else to look at, many people read signs that normally they would completely ignore.

To build on this during O-week, we created a contribution wall around the phrase, “how can you contribute to a respectful community?” and encouraged passing students to add their contributions to the wall. Although there had been some concerns raised around the appropriateness of student responses, overwhelmingly students contributed appropriate and valuable responses.

We wanted students to feel like they were a part of the community from the beginning of their time at La Trobe.  In asking them to add to the Respect Wall in their very first days of university study, we felt that we were helping to build a sense of community.

We also wanted them to be aware that there were norms and standards that we would be asking them to follow. By having our Respect at La Trobe team so visible in O week, we felt that we were communicating our appropriate conduct priorities to students fittingly. Several students commented to staff their appreciation of our priorities around behaviour, consent and wellbeing – that they felt “safer” on campus knowing that the university cared about them and was setting a standard of conduct.

From our interactions with students, and the responses we received, we felt that the “Respect Wall” initiative was overwhelmingly positive and incredibly successful. We are currently working on plans for this wall to be recorded and making the original available to see on campus.

Our second major initiative of this O week was our “take what you need” wall. The concept of a “take what you need” wall is one relatively well known in the social media world. Our initiative built on this – and students were able to approach the wall and select what they “needed” to succeed in their transition to university and tertiary study.

This wall utilised a previous marketing collateral, which we affectionately dubbed “challenge cards, in a more engaging and approachable way.

Containing advice, tips and tricks put together by our team with several stake holders, these cards covered a range of topics and areas of university life that the student wellbeing team can assist students with. Our URLs, of both the broader wellbeing team, and specific units were appropriate are included on these cards as well, so that students are able to access further information if they needed.


All put together, looked like this!



Stuartholme School - UNI101: Improving secondary students' knowledge of the higher education system

Tom Lillyman, Careers Counsellor, Stuartholme School

I had a memorable conversation with a past parent turned staff member in the first few months at my new secondary school. She told me that a lot of Year 12 students didn't know what lectures and tutorials were. Having spent the last seven years working with mostly tertiary students, this was a timely reminder that the basic concepts and language of tertiary study can be foreign to students who haven't experienced them before. 

As I got to know our senior students better, I started to make a mental list of key information about university that I thought they should know. Not just what I would consider the basics, like how to make a QTAC application, but the information that experience has taught me most students only learn after seeking out career advice at university. The kind of information that, if you know it early enough, can make you much more agile when navigating higher education.

My list included:

  • Common university terms and acronyms (GPA, AQF, lectures, tutorials, double degrees)
  • University classes (types of classes, enrolling, a standard timetable, study expectations)
  • CSPs (bands, where they are available, changes to distribution in postgraduate courses)
  • HELP (different types and lifetime limits)
  • Different pathways to university (bridging programs, VET, dual awards, tertiary study pathways)

I then used this list as my “to teach” list and went about trying to tick off things off. I tried digital scavenger hunts, casual drop-in sessions and panel events; new resources for researching and preferencing courses; and lots of conversations in career counselling sessions. 

It seemed to work well, but I’d like to keep improving the strategies we use to prepare students for this transition. For example, I think students would benefit from a better understanding of competitive course application processes, stronger relationships with alumnae studying at university, and more resources that they can take with them after school. My own reflections suggest that some of last year’s interventions would have been more impactful had they happened earlier in the year. So for this year's Year 12, they’ve already happened. 

It's going to be a challenging year with COVID-19, but I’m excited to support all students in their individual transitions. Leaving secondary school is an exciting time and, regardless of the pathway a student chooses, knowledge is power.


Ongoing wellbeing support and promotion

University of Queensland - Random Acts of Respect: Promoting ethical bystander intervention among a university student community

Emma Heard, Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Coordinator, Student Services, University of Queensland
Rowan Evans- Editor-in-Chief, Semper Floreat, UQU

The University of Queensland’s Student Union (UQU) in collaboration with UQ Respect, Student Services’ sexual violence prevention program, has developed a student-led ethical bystander program aimed at preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus. Random Acts of Respect is a poster campaign designed to encourage students to intervene when witnessing potentially harmful situations and challenge harmful social norms and attitudes that condone, trivialise or support sexual harassment, such as sexist or racist ‘jokes’ and derogatory comments. Random Acts of Respect began as a column in a student magazine, Semper Floreat, that published stories by students detailing real-life situations of being ethical bystanders. The stories were collected from a diverse range of domestic and international students and described various interventions in different situations, on campus and in the community. In July 2019, an accompanying poster campaign was developed to increase visibility and showcase specific stories with the aim of encouraging more students to intervene and providing ideas about how to do so safely. The poster campaign was designed using the slogan, ‘I am somebody and I can make a difference’ to promote a sense of responsibility among the student population. The posters were designed by students and included a series of six promotional posters and six accompanying anecdotal posters sharing specific stories. The showcased stories were chosen drawing on the 5 Ds model of bystander intervention: direct, distract, delegate, delay and document (Hollaback! 2017).

Sexual assault and harassment are key issues of concern for university students across Australia and the world. A report by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2017 showed that approximately one in five university students had experienced sexual harassment in a university setting (Australian Human Rights Commission 2017). Bystander approaches are showing particular potential in addressing sexual assault and harassment in university contexts internationally (Jouriles, Krauss et al. 2018). Bystander approaches aim to empower individuals to both change the trajectory of an incident and contribute to positive shifts in cultural norms. The Australian Human Rights Commission report indicated that approximately 25% of students had witnessed an act of sexual harassment and a quarter of those did something in response (Australian Human Rights Commission 2017). This shows us that while some students do feel empowered to act as ethical bystanders, promoting bystander intervention and building skills to ensure more students act when witnessing harmful or disrespectful situations is an important part of sexual violence prevention at universities. The report further indicated that the most common bystander intervention was talking to the survivor after an incident, followed by talking to the perpetrator (Australian Human Rights Commission 2017). So, further than building a sense of responsibility and empowerment, ethical bystander campaigns need to increase students’ repertoire of responses, allowing them to take more diverse action in a range of situations. This gave us a clear impetus for creating a campaign that deals with these issues.

There is a growing body of literature exploring what makes bystander interventions effective. This evidence suggests that bystander interventions should promote bystander intervention as a social norm, build a sense of responsibility and provide practical and safe ideas for intervening (Jouriles, Krauss et al. 2018, VicHealth and Behavioural Insights Team 2019). Random Acts of Respect works to address these three key aspects. By sharing student stories in students’ own words, the campaign promotes acting as an ethical bystander as a norm. It shows other students that their peers are intervening and allows students to see themselves in the stories. The slogan, ‘I am somebody and I can make a difference’ works to develop a sense of responsibility by encouraging students to see themselves as active agents of change. Finally, showcasing diverse stories provides practical suggestions and ideas for safe interventions in diverse situations and the next iterations of the campaign will focus on examples that use the other ‘Ds’ from the 5 Ds model. A comprehensive evaluation of this campaign will be important to capture both its reach and effectiveness.


Australian Human Rights Commission (2017). Change the course: national report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian Universities. Sydney, Australian Human Rights Commission.

Hollaback! (2017). Show-Up: Your Guide to Bystander Intervention. New York, NY, Centre for Urban Pedagogy

Jouriles, E. N., et al. (2018). "Bystander programs addressing sexual violence on college campuses: A systematic review and meta-analysis of program outcomes and delivery methods." Journal of American College Health 66(6): 457-466. 

VicHealth and Behavioural Insights Team (2019). Take Action: Empowering bystanders to act on sexist and sexually harassing behaviours. Melbourne, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation.


Deakin University - Health promotion in action at Deakin University

Melissa Yong, Health Promotion Coordinator, Deakin University


Deakin is a leader in health promotion research, teaching and training and to build on this Deakin initiated its own student-focused health promotion program in November 2018. The first 12 months of this program saw some significant advances in how we support our students’ health and wellbeing, complementing the successful health, wellbeing and support service delivery system in place.

2020–23 Student Health Promotion Strategy

In 2019 Deakin developed a Student Health Promotion Strategy to respond to the health needs and issues of students. These issues were identified by:

  • analysing national and state health and social data
  • examining Deakin data, and relevant University policies and plans
  • consulting with staff and students.

This key strategic document highlights six priority health areas:

  • mental health and wellbeing
  • healthy eating and nutrition
  • sexual and reproductive health
  • personal safety
  • physical activity
  • alcohol and other drugs. 

Implementation of the strategy is underway with a whole-of-University approach. Stakeholders from across the University are acting as Priority Area Leads, who are responsible for developing action plans to achieve each priority’s strategic goals and objectives. To inform these action plans, the Health Promotion Team has developed literature summaries that consider evidence-informed approaches, partnership approaches, health equity and targeted approaches for key student cohorts wherever required. 

Partnering with students to deliver the 2020–23 Student Health Promotion Strategy

To deliver the strategy, Deakin is using a ‘students as partners’ approach, described by Healey, Flint and Harrington (2014) as ‘a relationship in which all involved—students, academics, professional services staff, senior managers, students’ unions, and so on—are actively engaged in and stand to gain from the process of learning and working together’[1].

In 2019, 17 students were recruited to work alongside the Health Promotion Team, leading activities to promote mental health and social connectedness, physical activity and healthy eating. Wellbeing Ambassadors have supported thousands of international students at key welcome sessions and events during Deakin’s International Student Welcome Orientations.  The new health and wellbeing packs created and distributed with the assistance of our Wellbeing Ambassadors were particularly popular in Trimester 1 earlier this year.

In 2020, 197 students applied to become Wellbeing Ambassadors. Unfortunately, recruitment was paused in March due to the COVID-19 situation. We are hopeful of reinstating the recruitment process later this year, with the expanded Wellbeing Ambassador group working as student partners to help plan, design and deliver student health promotion programs into the future. Their role will be critical in the success of the action groups.

Health promotion is more important than ever before

Health promotion – particularly mental health and wellbeing, staying socially connected, being physically active and eating healthily – is more important than ever before amid the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation.

In late March, following the cessation of on-campus teaching, cancellation of all on-campus events and closure of on-campus services and facilities, Deakin launched the ‘Transitioning to online study’ campaign. This involved a rapid coordination of student life communications and expansion of Deakin’s already large, successful and vibrant Cloud Campus to help every Deakin student make a successful transition to online learning.

To continue to help students feel connected and engaged as a Deakin community during the COVID-19 lockdown and period of physical distancing, every student receives a weekly email newsletter with information on the wide range of services that are still available, ways to connect and engage with other students, study tips and any COVID-19 updates.

One aspect of this campaign was the launch in April of a new student Facebook Group, Together@Deakin – connecting students online. In conjunction with other Deakin social media platforms, this group publishes a weekly program of health promotion and engagement activations. Throughout April, staff have been working alongside student Wellbeing Ambassadors to deliver the program, which has included:

  • #DeakinUnplugged: a video featuring Wellbeing Ambassador Maggie encouraging students to switch off from study over the Easter break and pledge to do something creative or different or to learn a new skill.
  • Spotify playlist: blog story asking students to add songs to Deakin playlists that will be launched throughout April and May.
  • Facebook Live – planting winter vegetables: session on how to plant a garden bed to harvest in winter from Deakin’s Burwood Campus Community Garden.
  • Interactive art activation: video featuring Wellbeing Ambassador Hasan encouraging students to let off some steam and do something challenging – from drawing and painting to music, dancing and singing.
  • Cooking Masterclass – Student Dietician Stacey creates a video showing fellow students how to create a healthy meal in under 30 minutes.

May will kick off with the delivery of Deakin’s University Mental Health Day campaign, followed by more health promotion activations as guided by our students and working group.

I would particularly like to acknowledge BUPA as our health and care partner for their ongoing support of student health and wellbeing programs at Deakin.

For further information about Deakin’s Health Promotion Program, don’t hesitate to contact me:


[1] Healey, M., Flint, A., & Harrington, K. (2014). Engagement through partnership: students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. Higher Education Academy (HEA). Retrieved from

NDC - Pathway to Employability: a collaborative approach in supporting the transition of students with disability into graduate employment

Jessica Buhne, National Disability Coordination Officer, Centre for Disability Studies

Throughout the Sydney region, universities and other partners have been working collaboratively for a number of years to host a graduate forum for students with disability and/or chronic health condition. The forum has taken on various forms from a one day event, to interactive online sessions, each with the aim to provide university students with disability and/or chronic health condition with tools, strategies and knowledge to successfully transition into meaningful and successful graduate employment.

The following case study of the Pathway to Employability Forum held on 18 July 2018 at University of Technology Sydney demonstrates the value in working collaboratively across the tertiary sector to support students as they navigate the path towards meaningful and successful graduate employment. The Pathway to Employability Forum was organised and supported by a planning committee comprising of Accessibility Service and Careers staff members from the University of Technology Sydney, a Disability Service staff member at Western Sydney University, National Disability Coordination Officers (NDCO) from Sydney and Western Sydney and a representative from the Australian Network on Disability (AND).

The planning committee held meetings on a monthly basis in the early planning phase and then increased meeting frequency to a fortnightly basis as the event date approached. The planning committee made joint decisions on marketing, budgeting, accessibility requirements, sponsorship, logistics, program and registrations.

The Pathway to Employability forum consisted of keynote speakers, interactive workshops, a question and answer panel and a careers fair. The program for the event was jointly determined by the planning committee and speakers were approached through the planning committee’s networks. The forum program was designed to ensure students received information regarding ongoing assistance from careers services, information on mentoring and internship programs, and an understanding of rights in relation to sharing information about disability and workplace adjustments. The choice of speakers reflected the events objectives, and included a diversity of speakers with lived experience of disability. Presentation content similarly provided a range of information from varied perspectives.

Through a considered and well-structured program, the Pathway to Employability forum also provided students with direct engagement with employers through a careers fair component. The careers fair was able to link students with potential employers such as The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, E Health and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Similarly, the question and answer panel session enabled students to ask questions to employers and recent graduates.

In order to ensure accessibility of the event, the AND Accessibility Checklist was utilised. The main access features of the event included:

  • The venue on UTS campus, complied with all requirements with respect to access, was easily reached via public transport, and had a safe dropping zone for people arriving by private car or taxi.
  • Registration included a process for asking attendees to advise of any accessibility requirements for the event. All individual access requirements were met including provision of live captioning and internet connection for attendees to connect to live captioning through their personal devices, hearing loop and infrared devices, accessible formats for print material, wheelchair access, and alternative table heights. A quiet room was also made available.
  • Details of the venue, its accessibility features and wayfinding instructions were provided as part of the registration acknowledgement along with a map of the UTS campus.
  • Presentation materials were reviewed prior to the event to ensure accessibility including all videos being captioned or linked to the live captioning function operating on the day of the event.
  • Students could register for the event through an online form, or if they required assistance with this process, an alternative contact point was provided via the NDCO.

The targeted attendance was 100 students. This included students not only from the host university but all university students across the Sydney and wider NSW area. There were 159 online registrations with a total of 76 students who attended the event on the day, representing a 48% conversion rate of those registered to attendances on the day. It was expected by the planning committee that there would be approximately a 50% drop in the conversation rate of registration to attendance. All students who registered, whether they attended the event or not, received a follow up email with information, resources and links to the PowerPoint presentations used by presenters. It has been a common feature of the forums that the majority of students in attendance are students enrolled at the host university.


Overall satisfaction with Pathway to Employability indicated that 93% of students were either very satisfied or satisfied with the overall event. Comments from the evaluation forms include:

“I have a greater understanding of what I need to support me in the workplace. It’s ok for me to ask for what I need”.

“Enjoyable, nice to meet various people that are interested in improving inclusions in society”

“Very valuable information and learnt a lot”

The Pathway to Employability forum demonstrates the value of the tertiary education sector working collaboratively together to support students with disability during transition into graduate employment. The role of the host university is invaluable in this process, particularly in taking on the lead role of coordinating of the forum. With the support of the planning committee, the Pathway to Employability Forum provided diverse opportunities for students to engage with employers and recent graduates with lived experience and perspectives. Each member of the planning committee was able to contribute their knowledge, skills, resourcing and links to networks to bring this forum to fruition, whilst also ensuring a fully accessible event that would meet the needs of students in their transition to meaningful and successful graduate employment.

Speaker Philip Zamora from the Australian Network on Disability presenting to the audience of Pathway to Employability 2018.                Keynote Speaker, Donna Purcell presenting to the audience of Pathway to Employability 2018


For Your Information

Coming newsletter editions

We are looking forward to your submissions for the remaining 2020 newsletters.  During 2020, the newslettter will be issued every second month.  Please see the upcoming themes and submission deadlines below.

You may send your submissions at any time to 

June/July: Reducing Barriers to Student Participation and Achievement and Peer Mentoring and Student Leadership programmes

For our June/July newsletter, we are seeking articles highlighting how your institution is reducing barriers to student participation and achievement. We hope to hear from a number of you regarding the programmes, initiatives, and successes that we know are present on campuses across Australia and New Zealand.  We are also seeking article submissions that address the successes, challenges, and opportunities presented with peer mentoring and student leadership programmes. These could include peer assisted student session (PASS) mentors, FYE mentors, mentor/mentee stories, etc.

Due date for submissions is 24 June 2020 and they can be emailed to

August/September: Supporting Indigenous Students and Supporting Employability and Careers of Students

For the August/September’s newsletter, please send us your examples of how you and your colleagues are supporting indigenous students and also how you and your colleagues are supporting students as they prepare for their future careers, including developing key employability skills and helping students to discover their future career paths. Submissions are due 24 August 2020 and can be emailed to

October/November: Safe and Healthy Campuses and Communication and Engagement with Students

For October/November, we are looking for articles that discuss and highlight the initiatives and programmes that help create safe and healthy campuses across Australia and New Zealand. These can be articles that discuss student involvement with ensuring health, safety, and well-being on campuses, initiatives that equip students with skills to lead healthy lives, crisis or disaster response systems, etc.   We are also soliciting articles that address effective channels of communication with students, social media for learning and engagement, and the student perspective on communication within their university

Please email your submissions to by 24 October 2020.

Resources to support effective higher education delivery during and beyond COVID-19

The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) has established a new webpage, compiling essential resources to support effective higher education delivery during, and beyond, the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the COVID-19 situation rapidly unfolds worldwide, the majority of students have found themselves in a position of “disadvantage” — academically, logistically, financially, and/or personally. Research, resources and supports originally targeting equity students are rapidly becoming universally applicable.

A diverse collection of open access research, resources, articles and case studies are available on the NCSEHE website. The new webpage provides easy access to existing materials (both NCSEHE and other) that are applicable to emerging issues in university learning and teaching in this COVID-19 era. These will be continually updated over the coming months.

If you would like to suggest further items to be listed, please contact  Click here to access resources

2020 Student Equity in Higher Education Research Grants Program

The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) is now inviting applications for the 2020 round of the Student Equity in Higher Education Research Grants Program.

Proposals are invited from high-quality researchers and equity practitioners to conduct policy-relevant research aimed at supporting and informing student equity in higher education. In light of the COVID-19 situation, we particularly welcome projects with specific reference to potential inequities that the pandemic has foregrounded in recent months.

Funding for several research projects is available through a competitive selection process. It is anticipated that the majority of grants will be for between A$30,000 and A$40,000, although other amounts may be considered. Grants will commence in August 2020 and should be completed within 12 months (no later than October 2021).

Click here for further information.  Proposals must be submitted by 5 pm Western Standard time, Friday 12 June 2020

Professional Development Opportunities

ANZSSA Conference and Professional Development

As you would be aware, the ANZSSA Executive made the decision to cancel the 2020 ANZSSA Conference, which was to be held in Perth, due to logistical reasons brought about by the CoVid-19 pandemic, however we are very much looking forward to welcoming you all to Perth in 2021!  We will also be bringing a range of Professional Development opportunities to you during 2020, through our Professional Focus Groups. More information will be provided by email in the coming weeks.

As always, we welcome your input - if you have an idea for Professional Development or Resource and Information sharing that you think could be offered by ANZSSA, please contact the ANZSSA Office -


There has been enormous staffing changes within the higher education sector across Australia and New Zealand over the last few years so I thought it timely to give a fuller introduction of JANZSSA, the fully online journal published by ANZSSA. 

JANZSSA is dedicated to research and enhancing professional practice and the promotion of excellence in the delivery of student services within the Australia and New Zealand post-secondary sectors. So if you work in student services and putting the student at the centre of your day is your goal then JANZSSA is your professional journal. 

JANZSSA  is published twice yearly and relies heavily on the ANZSSA members and student services staff more broadly who submit articles for publication. Articles can be submitted for peer review to be published as a peer reviewed article or be submitted as an article that is approved for publication by the editorial process.  Accepted articles via peer review are usually reporting on research, service or practice evaluation, or provided a substantial literature review. These articles may have been submitted for inclusion in an ANZSSA conference and been peer reviewed as part of that process.  Articles that are not peer reviewed are usually outlining service innovation, best practice or making comment on service delivery, emerging practice or student needs. Book reviews are also welcomed. Submitting an article for publication in JANZSSA is encouraged as a professional development activity for anyone working in student services domains. Considerable support is offered by the editorial team so first time authors are encouraged to write about their work and the work of their service teams. 

The number of articles able to be published in the April issue (1) were impacted by the arrival of the CoVid-19 and the resultant disruption to business as usual within the HE sector. By the time you read this newsletter the first issue for JANZSSA 2020 will have been published and I am delighted to report that we received and were able to publish four articles. Congratulations are due to those ANZSSA members who rose to the occasion in these challenging times. You can read the articles published in the April JANZSSA and past issues via this link: 

JANZSSA needs you... 

Be a JANZSSA author: this is an invitation to you and your colleagues to reflect on your work and the work of your student services team, to draft and polish and then submit an article for publication in the October issue 2020 or the April issue 2021. Submission details and deadlines are located at here:

Be a JANZSSA Peer Reviewer: The Editorial team are inviting ANZSSA members to participate in the publication of JANZSSA by offering to be a 'peer reviewer' or an assistant editor. Due to the major staffing changes that have occurred in the last few years many of those who were contributing in these roles have moved on to life and work beyond student services so I ask you to give consideration to helping in these roles. You will also find a description of what is asked of a peer reviewer in the blog spot also located at

Be a JANZSSA Associate Editor: The JANZSSA team is also offering training to ANZSSA members who are interested in becoming involved in the JANZSSA editorial team through the role of assistant editor. This role engages with the editorial tasks under the guidance of the current JANZSSA editors. There are three vacancies for associate editor currently available. 

If you are interested in either or both of the roles (peer reviewer and/or associate editor) please email with the following information: Name, Role and focus of role, educational institution, plus outline (if) any relevant experience in document editing, academic writing, publishing etc. 

Given that there will not be an ANZSSA conference this year due to the disruption of CoVid -19 getting involved with JANZSSA offers an excellent opportunity to keep involved in your professional development.

Best wishes to you all for the remainder of 2020,

Annie Andrews